US: Connecticut landmark ruling declares same-sex marriage rights are retroactive
The Connecticut Supreme Court has declared that some legal rights of same-sex couples predate the state’s approvals of civil unions in 2005 and same-sex marriage in 2008.
The ruling overturned two lower court rulings in a 6-0 decision.
In the decision, the Supreme Court recognised that just because marriage rights are only now including same-sex couples, there have always been committed relationships which were marriage in all but name.
Therefore rights only now being granted through same-sex marriage and/or civil unions predate the recognition of relationships by the government and therefore should be retroactively recognised.
This is the first decision of its kind in the country and will allow for due process in the Connecticut case involving Margaret Mueller and Charlotte Stacey.
Now widowed, Charlotte Stacey can sue a doctor in a medical malpractice case for the death of her spouse and the loss of her spouse’s companionship and income.
The alleged malpractice occurred from 2001 to 2004, at a time when only heterosexual married couples were allowed to sue for loss of spousal consortium.
Mueller was given an incorrect diagnosis of the type of cancer she had. If diagnosed correctly, her cancer would have been treatable.
Stacey and Mueller had a civil union in Connecticut in 2005.
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After 23 years together, they were married in Massachusetts in 2008, shortly before the Connecticut Supreme Court approved same-sex marriage.
Connecticut was the second state after Massachusetts to approve same-sex marriage.
Mueller initially sued for malpractice. A jury issued a $ 2.4 million (£ 1.4 million) verdict in her favor against one doctor while another doctor named in the lawsuit settled out of court.
However, the trial court and the state Appellate Court ruled against Stacey in her effort to sue for loss of consortium, saying Stacey and Mueller weren’t married as required under the law.
Stacey can now seek justice under a statute that previously did not apply to her and her spouse.
Same-sex marriage bans that have been overturned in other states continue to make their way through the courts. This includes Utah and Colorado which fall under the jurisdiction of the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
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